Friday, March 6, 2015

The Cookbook Project - 9/52

I am 29 today.

Twenty nine years ago, my mother did all the work and I reaped all the benefits. Although I like to think I give something back to the world, a happy little sparkle of sarcasm and caffeine addiction that would otherwise be missing.

Not much to tell, as far as birthdays go - Jason's had a bout with the stomach flu all week and spent the last two days living on the couch and subsisting primarily on Gatorade and regret. Today was the first day he felt okay to go back to work, and you bet he took Gatorade with him.

I went into work about a half hour early, with a caramel macchiato and a lot of determination that I would get some things done today. Which I actually really did and I feel pretty good about it. I'm still in the early stages in this job and so things are probably about to change for me in a big way, but I'm making the most of what I know how to do now.

My boss takes everyone to lunch when someone has a birthday, so we piled into his car and went to Blue Ridge Brewery, and I had a Caesar salad with grilled shrimp and a beer and it was delightful.

Back to work, and more stuff accomplished, and I left and ran through the Fresh Market for a traditional birthday dinner of Fresh Market salads and fruit tarts. I added some of their butternut squash and apple soup this time, to help Jason's stomach handle things a little more easily, made myself a Kentucky Mule with some of our Lewis Redmond bourbon, and I am settled in for the night.

So I bid 29 a fond hello, because this year's been pretty good to me so far and I'm hopeful it'll only get better from here.

So... let's talk cornbread.

Cornbread is basically an eternal side dish in this house. I make cornbread to go with everything - pork, beef, chicken, black beans... we always keep cornmeal and other cornbread ingredients on hand, and I get kind of nervous when we run out, because it means my "emergency dinner" (cornbread and black beans) can't happen, and I don't like it when I don't have a backup plan. Especially when somebody's baby decides to be less than cooperative and it's hard for me to pull dinner together.

This cornbread is a little bit different than my standby, though.

It's Cranberry-Orange cornbread, and it's basically a cake.

It's sweeter than traditional cornbread, has an icing, and little nibbles of dried cranberries all throughout.

It was delicious.

Ingredients - Amounts Omitted
Yellow cornmeal
baking powder
melted butter
dried cranberries
grated orange rind
Orange juice
confectioner's sugar

The first part of this I could do in my sleep. You stir together all the dry ingredients, then add milk and eggs and melted butter, whisking together until totally blended. Once again, the cookbook tells you to melt the butter and then mix it with the milk and eggs, then mix everything into the dry ingredients.

I never do this.

My milk never fails to curdle if I try and put the melted butter with it before anything else.

So rather than fail, I chose to do it the easier, less gross-looking way; I just mix the milk and eggs in with the dry ingredients briefly, then add the butter and mix all together. At this point, you add the cranberries and orange rind as well. It works just fine.

Once everything is just blended, pour into an 8" or 9" baking pan. Make sure you've sprayed the pan with Pam or buttered it first so everything doesn't stick.

Bake at 350 Degrees Farenheit for about half an hour, until the top of lightly browned and the surface feels good and firm.

Pierce the top with a fork or wooden skewer probably ten or so times. In a small bowl, stir together the orange juice and confectioner's sugar until smooth. I only used about half the sugar the cookbook called for, and the icing came out really nice and sweet and with a strong orange flavor. If I'd have used the full amount I think the orange flavor would have been a little lost in it, so I like what I did. Evenly pour your icing over the surface, spreading so that it absorbs.

I allowed ours to briefly sit, so the icing had time to set but the bread was still warm.

Then Jason and I (and a coworker of his who came by briefly) devoured it like ravenous beasts.

It was definitely a great dessert cake. Cornbread as dessert is a little bit of an oddball thought to me and not something I would necessarily have thought to make on my own. But it was so good. I could have eaten panfuls of the stuff morning, noon, and night. Okay, maybe ONE morning, noon, and night.

Then I would get bored.

But until then it would be deliciously monotonous.

I will make this again in a heartbeat. I will make this again first chance I get.

Before that, though, we have our next week of the project...

Corned beef, cabbage, and Irish Soda Bread! Stay tuned! Things are about to get very, very Irish in this house. We're gonna confuse the heck out of our German and Scottish ancestors.

P.S. Links to the Farmers Cookbook in these project posts will be affiliate links. This means that if you click through and purchase, I may receive a small commission for helping you realize how awesome this cookbook is. Please rest assured that any and all commission monies will be spent buying me more books.

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